Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2007 16:44:29 -0500
Reply-To: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: mercury question

I believe that this was passed along by ACS Member Services, ACS  
Membership & Scientific Advancement.  Mr. Schoonveld is not on the  
DCHAS-L list, so replies sent directly to him are preferred. I will  
pass along any  list traffic to him as well.

- Ralph

From: 	 rpschoon**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: division of chemical safety/ mercury question
Date: 	November 8, 2007 8:10:31 AM EST

I would like to ask your help on something (perhaps this is a question  
for your division of chem. safety- it came highly recommended):

There is a hypothetical new science teacher who, two summers ago,  
began cleaning out his classroom and chemical closet.  The previous  
teacher had been there 38 years in the same room.  The young teacher  
discovered approx. 50 mercury thermometers in the cleaning process.   
With numerous other chemicals, both known and unknown, the district  
paid to remove them at a cost of several thousand dollars.

As, the young teacher began working with alcohol thermometers he had  
ordered in, he realized how easily they break (both he and the  
students).  He wondered "if I broke all these thermometers my first  
few months of science
teaching, how many mercury thermometers had the old teacher and  
students broken over 38 years?"  Specifically, "how much mercury is  
still remaining throughout the classroom and how safe am I and the  

As an aside, numerous jars of animals "pickled" in formalin were  

The formalin had been escaping from the jars into the classroom over  
the years. Most were no longer full, half full, or completely dried up  
(the smell of "rot" had been reported in this classroom and a  
neighboring one over the years).

The young teacher is not tenured, realizes the potential politics  
involved in pursuing the matter (although he has emailed the district  
several times over the months about the potential problem without  
action)....   Yet, his overall safety and that of the students cannot  
be ignored.

1. Do you have any information on mercury for this hypothetical  
teacher AND some to pass on to his principle?

2. A penny for your thoughts to this young teacher in need of wisdom?!

Thank you for your time!

Rob Schoonveld

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